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Monday, March 10, 2012: Massena, Schroeder win hockey championships

   Leading off today: Massena's Patrick Manning scored two goals and added an assist, and Tyler Young collected two assists in the Red Raiders' 4-1 win over Ithaca in the NYSPHSAA Division I hockey final Sunday in Utica.

   Nathan Walker gave Ithaca the lead with 9:58 left in the first period.

   "We gave up the goal, but the mood was still pretty loose in the locker room after the first period. We've given up the first goal a few times in the playoffs. But we've stressed all season that games aren't over after the first period," Massena coach Mike Trimboli said.

   Manning tied the game early in the second period with a power-play goal, and Dylan Stone scored the winner for Massena late in the second. Manning gave Massena a 3-1 lead with 4:13 left in the third.

   "I've been on the team for five years and to have things finish this way really means a lot," goalie Connor Paquin told the Watertown Daily News after making 16 saves in the win. "I've always dreaded taking off my jersey for the last time, but this makes up for it."

   In Division II, Joe Schuler and Jeremy Caulkins scored first-period goals for the Warriors in a 2-0 victory over Beekmantown. Goalie Ryan Beutel gave up one goal in two games and made 19 saves Sunday for the shutout.

   In six playoff games, the Warriors -- just one student short of being placed in Division I this season -- trailed for a total of 62 seconds.

   "How do you play that consistent all the way through?" Schuler told the Democrat and Chronicle. "But we came together as a team and we played for each other all the way."

   Back on the diamond: Former Cicero-North Syracuse softball coach Kerry Bennett, dismissed in a highly controversial school board decision in the summer of 2012, will serve as an assistant this spring at Liverpool -- previously a fierce rival.

   "They used to be the Evil Empire, right?" Bennett, 67, jokingly told The Post-Standard.

   Bennett, who won four NYSPHSAA championships and more than 600 games in 30 seasons at C-NS, has remained as the Section 3 softball chairman and stayed active last year giving private instruction. He had been fired in 2012 amid controversy that erupted when a former player skipped the state final to attend the C-NS senior prom. The player's family alleged harassment and bullying afterward, and the school board fired Bennett without any public evidence of misconduct by the coach. (Look back: Aug. 28, 2012 blog)

More N.Y. postseason coverage
All sports
NYSSWA site for brackets of tournaments from the past and present seasons. Boys basketball
Road to Glens Falls for scores and stats.
NYSPHSAA tourney brackets
Current state rankings.
Girls basketball
Road to Troy for scores and stats.
NYSPHSAA tourney brackets
Current state rankings.
Ice hockey
NYSSWA site for tournament brackets.
Current state rankings.

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   Bennett told the paper the chance to help at Liverpool grew out of conversations he had with Nick Spataro, who is starting his 24th season as head coach.

   "I feel good about it. I have no problem," Bennett said. "We'll put our brains together and see what we come up with. It's a good thing. He's a veteran and doesn't feel threatened with me there. ... It takes the pressure off. I suppose if there's a crazy or irate parent, that's what Nick is for."

   Spataro said he and his athletic director got approval from the school district and Bennett went through all of the various certifications to start working. Still, he's had to pass the "eye test" with players and parents used to seeing Bennett in the opponents' dugout.

   "Yeah, it was our biggest rival, but it doesn't mean I don't respect their program or the kids," Spataro said. "I admire him with everything he achieved and how hard they worked in the offseason. It's why I got him here to try and get my kids even better, make myself a better coach and make us a better team."

    • As an aside, I do not see Brittany Paul's name on the 2014 Lafayette College softball roster. Does anyone know what happened to Paul, who was at the center of the C-NS controversy in 2012 and had a solid college debut season last spring?

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